Enriching Policy with Research


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The failure of researchers to link evidence to policy and practice produces evidence that no one uses, impedes innovation, and leads to mediocre or even detrimental development policies. To help improve the definition, design, and implementation of policy research, researchers should adopt a strategic outcome-oriented approach.

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Enriching Policy with Research

  1. 1. The views expressed in this presentation are the views of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Asian Development Bank, or its Board of Governors, or the governments they represent. ADB does not guarantee the accuracy of the data included in this presentation and accepts no responsibility for any consequence of their use. The countries listed in this presentation do not imply any view on ADB's part as to sovereignty or independent status or necessarily conform to ADB's terminology. Enriching Policy With Research Olivier Serrat 2013
  2. 2. On Policy, Its Change Policy is a deliberate course of action to guide decisions and achieve outcomes. Policy change can be: • Discursive—involving new concepts and terminology; • Procedural—altering the way policy makers do things; • Content-oriented—inducing modifications in strategy or policy documents; and • Behavioral—transforming attitudes.
  3. 3. On Research, and Science Policy Research is a systematic effort to increase the stock of knowledge. Science policy is concerned with how science or research is funded. Its goal is how to best serve the public through the use of science and technology.
  4. 4. The Domains of Science Policy Science policy concerns: • Utilitarian science, which prioritizes projects that can reduce large amounts of suffering; • Basic science, which tries to stimulate breakthroughs; • Scholastic conservation, which aims to efficiently impart available knowledge to whoever can use it; • Monumental science, which sponsors science for the sake of science, often through large projects; and/or • Technology development, which advances the application of science mainly through engineering.
  5. 5. On Utilitarian Science Policy Utilitarian research costs less and pledges more than other types of research. Developing countries favor utilitarian science policy. This type of policy: • Seeks improvements in people's lives rather than the generation of commercially viable advancements in knowledge or breakthrough solutions; and • Helps save lives, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of human existence.
  6. 6. On Policy: Myths and Reality In theory, policy makers make decisions based on research that has already delivered results, and the best experience and knowledge available. In reality, poor research circulates and is acted upon while good research is ignored and disappears. Policy makers need to determine what information, evidence, or belief is true or valid. They are driven by the Five S's: speed, superficiality, spin, secrecy, and scientific ignorance.
  7. 7. On Policy: Myths and Reality Policy makers do not: • Identify the problem; • Commission research; • Analyze results; • Choose the best option; • Establish the policy; • Implement the policy; and • Undertake evaluation. Courses of action are defined based primarily on three overlapping areas: • Political context; • Evidence; and • The links between policy and research communities.
  8. 8. The Promise of Research in Development In development assistance, research in science, technologies, and ideas can make a difference if they: • Identify what tools, methods, and approaches no longer work; • Test new ways of doing things; and • Link knowledge from these tests in ways that inform policy and practice. Researchers miss opportunities to turn inquiries into lasting change because of the weak rapport between investigations, recommendations, and the real world of policy makers and policy making.
  9. 9. Political Context Political structures and processes, institutional pressures, prevailing concepts, policy streams and window, etc. Links Policy makers and other stakeholders, relationships, voice trust, networks, the media, and other intermediaries, etc. Evidence Credibility, methods, relevance, use, how the messages is packaged and communicated, etc. External Influences Socioeconomic and cultural influences, development and influences, etc. Campaigning and Lobbying Analysis and Research Scientific Information Exchange and Validation Source: Overseas Development Institute. 2013. Available: www.odi.org/ The RAPID Framework
  10. 10. The RAPID Framework The RAPID Framework of the Overseas Development Institute suggests that research-based and other forms of evidence can enrich policy and practice if: • It fits within the political and institutional limits and pressures of policy makers, resonates with the policy makers' assumptions, or sufficient pressure is exerted to challenge them; • The evidence is credible and convincing, provides practical solutions to pressing policy problems, and is packaged to attract the interest of policy makers; and • Research and policy makers share common networks, trust one another, and communicate effectively.
  11. 11. Grooming Policy Entrepreneurs Researchers must make more informed and strategic choices to maximize chances that evidence will impact policy and practice. Researchers must become policy entrepreneurs who can: • Operate in highly political environments; • Distill powerful policy messages from research results; • Use networks, hubs, and partnerships and build coalitions to work effectively with all stakeholders; and • Maintain long-term programs that pull all these together.
  12. 12. Grooming Policy Entrepreneurs Researchers must have intent—they must know what they want and truly want that. To engage, research units must have: • A clear policy objective; • Focused research; • More communications that include simple, concrete, credible, and emotional stories; • The right incentives; and • The right systems.
  13. 13. Grooming Policy Entrepreneurs Researchers must equip themselves with skills. They need to be: • Engineers; • Fixers; • Networkers; and • Storytellers. Researchers must work in multidisciplinary teams with others who possess the needed skills.
  14. 14. What You Need to Know What You Need to Do How to Do It Political Context • Who are the key policy makers? • Is there a demand for research and new ideas among them? • What is the policy-making environment (i.e., structures, processes, legal and policy framework)? • What are the opportunities and timing for input into formal processes? • Get to know the policy makers, their agendas, and their constraints. • Identify potential supporters and opponents. • Keep an eye on the horizon and prepare for opportunities in regular policy processes. • Look out for, and react to, unexpected policy windows. • Work with policy makers. • Seek commissions. • Line up research programs with high profile policy events. • Reserve resources to be able to move quickly to respond to policy windows. • Allow sufficient time and resources. Influencing Policy and Practice Source: Overseas Development Institute. 2013. Available: www.odi.org/
  15. 15. What You Need to Know What You Need to Do How to Do It Evidence • What is the current theory? • What are the prevailing narratives? • How divergent is the new evidence? • What sort of evidence will convince policy makers? • Establish credibility over the long term. • Provide practical solutions to problems. • Establish legitimacy. • Build a convincing case and present clear policy options. • Package new ideas in familiar theory or narratives. • Communicate effectively. • Build up programs of high- quality work. • Action-research and pilot projects to demonstrate benefits of new approaches. • Use participatory approaches to help with legitimacy and implementation. • Establish a clear strategy for communication from the start. • Conduct face-to-face communication. Influencing Policy and Practice Source: Overseas Development Institute. 2013. Available: www.odi.org/
  16. 16. What You Need to Know What You Need to Do How to Do It Links • Who are the key stakeholders? • What links and networks exist between them? • Who are the intermediaries and what influence do they have? • Whose side are they on? • Get to know the other stakeholders. • Establish a presence in existing networks. • Build coalitions with like- minded stakeholders. • Build new policy networks. • Forge partnerships between researchers, policy makers, and policy end users. • Identify key networkers and salesmen. • Use informal contacts. Influencing Policy and Practice Source: Overseas Development Institute. 2013. Available: www.odi.org/
  17. 17. What You Need to Know What You Need to Do How to Do It External Influences • Who are the main international actors in the policy process? • What influence do they have? • What are their aid priorities? • What are their research priorities and mechanisms? • What are the policies of the donors funding the research? • Get to know the donors, their priorities, and their constraints. • Identify potential supporters, key individuals, and networks. • Establish credibility. • Keep an eye on donor policy and look out for policy windows. • Develop extensive background on donor policies. • Orient communications to suit donor priorities and language. • Try to work with the donors and seek commissions. • Contact key individuals regularly. Influencing Policy and Practice Source: Overseas Development Institute. 2013. Available: www.odi.org/
  18. 18. RAPID Outcome Mapping The Overseas Development Institute's RAPID Outcome Mapping approach draws on concepts and tools for policy engagement to: • Provide policy entrepreneurs with more information about the context they are operating in; and • Enable them to make better strategic choices or be better placed to take advantage of policy windows and opportunities. The approach comprises seven distinct steps, although not all will be needed in all situations.
  19. 19. RAPID Outcome Mapping 1. Define (and redefine) the policy objective. • Influencing objectives need not be limited to facilitating changes in (written) government policies. • The agenda may include discursive, procedural, attitudinal, and behavioral changes.
  20. 20. RAPID Outcome Mapping 2. Map the policy context. • How do policies influence the local political context? • How do policy makers perceive the problem? • Is there political interest in change in the country? • Is there enough of the right sort of evidence to convince them of the need for change? How is it presented? • Who are the key organizations and individuals with access to policy makers? • What is the donor's agenda where external actors are involved? Are there existing networks to use?
  21. 21. RAPID Outcome Mapping 3. Identify the key stakeholders. • This involves determining their positions and interests in relation to the policy objective. • Some can be very interested and aligned, and can be considered natural allies for change. • Others can be interested, though not yet aligned, and can yet be brought into the fold of reformers so they do not present obstacles.
  22. 22. RAPID Outcome Mapping 4. Identify desired behavioral changes. • Developing a theory of change entails describing precisely the current behavior and the behavior that is needed, if the key influential stakeholders are to contribute to the achievement of the desired policy objective. • It also calls for short- and medium-term step-changes that can be monitored to ensure that the priority stakeholders are moving in the right direction and responding to the efforts of the change program.
  23. 23. RAPID Outcome Mapping 5. Develop a strategy. • Developing a strategy entails spelling out milestone changes in the policy change process. • Force field analysis is a flexible tool that can be used to further understand the forces supporting and opposing the desired policy change and suggest concrete responses.
  24. 24. RAPID Outcome Mapping 6. Analyze internal capacity to effect change. • To operationalize a strategy, one must ensure the engagement team has the competencies required. • The team must have the set of systems, processes, and skills that can help inform or involve policy makers in research. • The information gathered should prove useful in starting tangible actions to meet the desired policy objective. The information gathered up to this point can then be used to establish an action plan.
  25. 25. RAPID Outcome Mapping 7. Establish a monitoring and learning framework. • The final step is to develop a monitoring and learning system not only to track progress, make necessary adjustments, and assess the effectiveness of the approach, but also to learn lessons for the future. • Crucial to the collection of knowledge is sharing it and using it.
  26. 26. Define (and Redefine) the Policy Objective Identify the Key Stakeholders Identify Desired Behavioral Changes Develop a Strategy Analyze Internal Capacity to Effect Change Establish a Monitoring and Learning Framework Map the Policy Context Tools include the alignment, interest, and influence matrix; stakeholder analysis; influence mapping; social network analysis; and force field analysis. Tools include progress markers; opportunities and threats timeline; policy objectives; the alignment, interest, and influence matrix; and force field analysis. Tools include force field analysis; communication strategies; advocacy campaigns; the network functions approach; structured innovation; and research strategies. Tools include drivers of change; power analysis; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis; influence mapping; and force field analysis. Tools include the logical framework (flexible); outcome mapping; journals or impact logs; and internal monitoring tools. Tools include the policy entrepreneur questionnaire; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats analysis; and internal performance frameworks. Source: Overseas Development Institute. 2009. Helping Researchers Become Policy Entrepreneurs. Briefing Paper. Available: www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/1127.pdf RAPID Outcome Mapping
  27. 27. In Sum Failure to link evidence to policy and practice: • Produces evidence that no one uses; • Impedes innovation; and • Leads to mediocre or even detrimental development policies. To help improve the definition, design, and implementation of policy research, researchers should adopt a strategic outcome-oriented approach.
  28. 28. In Sum Research units must transform themselves into policy-focused think tanks. This involves: • Reorientation from academic achievement to policy engagement; • Grappling with the policy community; • Developing a research agenda focusing on policy issues rather than academic interests; • Acquiring new skills or building multidisciplinary teams; • Establishing new internal systems and incentives; • Spending more on communications; • Producing a range of outputs; and • Working in partnerships and networks.
  29. 29. Further Reading • ADB. 2008. Linking Research to Practice. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/linking-research-practice • ADB. 2008. Posting Research Online. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/posting-research-online • ADB. 2008. Outcome Mapping. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/outcome-mapping • ADB. 2010. Enriching Policy with Research. Manila. Available: www.adb.org/publications/enriching-policy-research • Overseas Development Institute. 2004. Bridging Research and Policy in International Development. Briefing Paper. Available: www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/159.pdf
  30. 30. Further Reading • Harry Jones and Simon Hearn. 2009. Outcome Mapping: A Realistic Alternative for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation. Overseas Development Institute. Background Note. Available: www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/4118.pdf • John Young and Enrique Mendizabal. 2009. Helping Researchers Become Policy Entrepreneurs. Overseas Development Institute. Briefing Paper. Available: www.odi.org.uk/resources/download/1127.pdf
  31. 31. Olivier Serrat Principal Knowledge Management Specialist Regional and Sustainable Development Department Asian Development Bank knowledge@adb.org www.adb.org/knowledge-management www.facebook.com/adbknowledgesolutions www.scribd.com/knowledge_solutions www.twitter.com/adbknowledge